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Medal round set at University Championships

(by Jesse Matthews) On Tuesday night all but one of the eight playoff spots had already been decided for Wednesday’s semifinals, and it was in the women’s draw.   That spot was up for grabs between the Dalhousie Tigers (5-2) and the Brandon Bobcats in a must win situation for both teams. As fate would have it, they were matched up against each other in the final game of round robin play. Dalhousie’s Kristin Clarke showed why she is a women’s world junior curling champion, leading her team to a clutch victory, 6-4, and grabbing the final playoff spot.

The Guelph Gryphons (5-2) made school history as they qualified for the first time for the CIS / Curling Canada University Championships after triumphing 10-9 in an extra end versus the UNB Varsity Reds (0-7) in an incredible comeback victory.

Guelph skip Jestyn Murphy (photo by Ken Reid)

Guelph skip Jestyn Murphy
(photo by Ken Reid)

“We had to think about what we know about the ice, what we know about draw weight, because you need rocks in play,” reflected Gryphons skip Jestyn Murphy. “It’s really tough to shake a bad start like that, but you have to move forward.”

And move forward they did. Down 8-1 after four ends, the Gryphons rallied back in the next four ends to get within one. Thanks to scoring a deuce in the tenth end, both teams were forced into an extra end, where Guelph emerged victorious to complete the impressive comeback. Not only did the Gryphons make it to playoffs, they do so as the #1 seed!

The Brock Badgers (3-4) ended their championship run on a good note, defeating the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (2-5) by a score of 9-7 after stealing one in the final end.

Alberta Pandas (5-2) had an opportunity to seize the number one seeding for the playoffs, but that was quelled by the Thompson Rivers University (5-2) after they won by a commanding score of 10-4 in nine ends of play.

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough week,“ said Pandas skip Kelsey Rocque. “We know we have to play our best to get to this point and we’re looking to bring that forward into the playoffs.”

Tough is right. All four teams on the women’s side have records of 5-2, so several tiebreakers have been employed to determine seedings. Wins and losses amongst the four teams become paramount, and both Thompson Rivers and Guelph have a 2-1 record amongst the four teams. When they played against each other, Guelph defeated Thompson Rivers, so they are the #1 and #2 respective seeds. The University of Alberta and Dalhousie have a 1-2 record amongst the four teams, but Dalhousie won in their matchup so they have the #3 seed and the University of Alberta has the #4 seed. Playoff pairings are #1 versus #4 and #2 versus #3, so Guelph will take on the University of Alberta and Thompson Rivers will take on Dalhousie in women’s play on Wednesday.

On the men’s side all four playoff teams were already decided; the only question was the seedings all teams would earn going in to playoffs. The University of Alberta Golden Bears (7-0) completed their perfect run by defeating the University of Victoria Vikes (4-3) by a score of 7-6. This win came despite giving up four stones in the fourth end to the Vikes for a temporary 4-2 lead.

“[This game] was an opportunity to execute some precise shots, but if we missed there wasn’t a dramatic effect in result,” noted Vikes skip Corey Chester. “We went in to play hard.”

The host UBC Okanagan Heat (2-5) fell 8-5 after nine ends in their final matchup versus the Dalhousie Tigers (2-5), while the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (6-1) secured their second seeding with a 9-4 victory over the Waterloo Warriors (2-5).

The Brock Badgers (4-3) took down the Saint Mary’s Huskies (1-6) with a 7-4 win, qualifying for playoffs for the first time as a school. “It’s pretty exciting,” commented Badgers skip Eric Bradey. “Our goal at the start of the week was definitely to make playoffs and we accomplished that.”

Bradey shows athletic excellence in multiple sports; he represents the Badgers in varsity soccer as a defender. This week he’s all about curling, though.

“It was important for us to have a good game and to carry out momentum into the playoffs. We won both today and securing that playoff spot feels great.”

The University of Alberta Golden Bears will enter playoffs as the #1 seed, which matches them up against the #4 Brock Badgers, while the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks will go in with the #2 seed and take on the #3 University of Victoria Vikes.

Full scores, standings and team rosters can be found here: